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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

16 Days Til 30 - My Life In Theatre: Act 1, High School

Believe it or not, I wasn't always the theatre devotee that I am today. For a long time, I didn't think very much about theatre. Particularly musicals. I admit, I was kind of a cynical kid and thought musicals were stupid. People suddenly bursting into song and dance randomly out of nowhere, how absurd! Things changed pretty suddenly as I entered high school though.

First day of Freshman year, I quickly decided that being on the football team would not be the right path for me. So after returning my gear that morning, I went through the day wondering where it would take me. After lunch, I saw a flier on one of the bulletin boards outside a classroom. It has audition and production staff information application information for the Fall musical. Normally, I probably wouldn't have cared. However, something caught my eye. The show that Fall was "Damn Yankees". The previous year, my 8th grade class had gone to a local high school to see their annual Spring musical which was  "Damn Yankees". I really enjoyed the when I saw it at Camden Catholic and since I was familiar with the show, I decided to apply to be on the production staff. I applied for the position of Assistant Stage Manager and, much to my surprise, was chosen to be one of the ASMs. My time with the Cape & Sword Drama Society at St. Joe's Prep began this day!

During my time at the Prep, I severed as Assistant Stage Manager for four shows there; "Damn Yankees", "A Midsummer Night's Dream", "Little Shop of Horrors" and "The Music Man". I loved every second of my time there. I learned a lot from everyone involved with each passing show. I auditioned for "Midsummer..." and "Little Shop" but didn't get cast in either. Though why I auditioned for "Little Shop" I'm still not particularly sure about. I remained firmly a part of the production staff because most of the shows they did were musicals and I really didn't consider myself to be a singer by any stretch of the imagination. Not that it mattered all that much to me, I was just glad to be involved.

The summer after my Sophomore, my family moved from Cherry Hill, NJ to York, PA. Spring of my Junior year, I got involved in the theatre program at York Catholic High School by serving as the Assistant Stage Manager for their production of "The King & I". That semester, I also began my experience working on stage crew since that apparently went hand-in-hand with being on production staff. I have to be honest, I never really enjoyed stage crew work. I'm not a handy person or good with tools so I was always concerned I'd screw something up. To the best of my knowledge, I don't think that ever happened. So, yeah, good for me.

That summer, I took some classes at York Little Theatre. I don't remember the exact names of the classes, but I remember one was a class about improv and the others dealt with scene work. It was during this time that I became determined to branch out and hopefully start to act as well as work backstage.

Senior year, in the fall I finally made my debut on stage. The Senior Play that year was "M*A*S*H*" and I was cast in the role of Colonel Henry Blake, the commanding officer of the hospital who was played by McLean Stevenson on the TV show. My first appearance in the show had me entering wearing thermal underwear, boots and a winter hat. Got to admit, that's a hell of a first impression to make!

Not long after the Senior Play finished, I auditioned for a show at York Little Theatre for the first time. It was a play in the Children's Theatre Series called "The Trickster" by French playwright Moliere. I was cast as a gypsy/pirate named Andres who served as an antagonist in the second act. It was an interesting run, 10 performances over the course of two weekends. It was kind of draining since I wasn't used to doing two shows a day during Saturdays and Sundays, but - once again - I loved every second of it.

That Spring, I decided to step up and take the reins as Stage Manager for the musical that year which was "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat". I didn't really do a whole lot during the rehearsal process aside from watch since the show is entirely sung through so there really weren't any line notes to give. Once Tech Week rolled around and I was actually calling cues as the show unfolded, I felt great! It was an incredible feeling to know I was the one controlling the show. I heard nothing but positive comments which was, as one would expect, a total ego boost.

As high school came to an end, it was time to start planning for college. I'd be starting at The University of Scranton as an English major that Fall. At the open house, I heard many great things about the English program and the Theatre program as well. I was ready to immerse myself in the world of college theatre and continue to improve my skills both on and off stage.

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